HC Deb 02 November 1973 vol 863 c21W
Mr. Clinton Davis

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why Her Majesty's Consul-General in Marseilles intervened in a dispute concerning the crew of a Dutch cargo ship the "Heelsum", assisted in the replacement of the crew with 44 Chinese sailors from Hong Kong and urged the expedition of the sailing of this ship carrying a consignment of weapons and tanks from Marseilles to Saudi Arabia on 15th October 1973.

Lord Balniel

The facts are not as stated. The vice-consul boarded the "Heelsum" in accordance with his regular responsibilities in shipping matters to use his good offices in a dispute involving 23 Hong Kong crew members who refused to sail on the grounds that the voyage would be dangerous. He suggested that a Hong Kong Government representative should be asked to meet the vessel at its next port of call. As this suggestion was not acceptable to the crew the captain said he would refer the dispute to the ship's owners and the vice-consul left the ship. He was subsequently informed that 13 Hong Kong seamen were leaving the ship to return to Hong Kong and that the other 10 would stay aboard until the ship could take on a replacement crew.

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